The program has encountered houses that are in such severe shape that insurance companies will no longer write policies for them because they’re considered too unsafe and the company’s exposure to liability for fire or injury is too great. The inability to acquire insurance can snowball into a bigger problem, Beaulieu said. For example, many financial institutions will pull the mortgage on uninsured homes, she said.
That’s the situation Anthony Smith found himself in after his mother died and the Elm Street home he grew up in began to crumble around him. A working college student before his mother fell ill, Smith quit both his job and school to care for her.
“The house had had problems and my mother always said she’d get to them,” Smith said. “But her husband had died, she didn’t have a man around the house and things just didn’t get fixed.”
Following her death, Smith found himself dealing with not only his grief, but a deteriorating home he now owned.
“Everything happened at once and I couldn’t believe how fast,” Smith said. ‘The roof just poured water into the house whenever it rained, the insurance company said if I didn’t fix the (outside) brick stairs and retaining wall, it would cancel the policy; the floor was buckling because of the water damage, it went on and on.
“My mother had just died, and I didn’t have the money for the repairs. I just wanted to curl up on the couch and pull a blanket over my head.”
Luckily, Smith wasn’t allowed to give up. A relative knowledgeable about Salisbury’s rehabilitation program literally drove him over to meet Beaulieu. Smith was income-qualified and placed on the waiting list for rehabilitation funds. His name finally reached the top of the list and work has now begun.
With a job again and the repairs started, Smith said he can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the same light that has shone for 167 other Salisbury families.
For more information on Salisbury’s Housing Rehabilitation Program, call Lisa Beaulieu at 978-463-2266 or drop by the Planning Department on the first floor of Salisbury Town Hall.